“I think depression transcends words, but I think love also transcends words.” –Harrison Miller

Harrison Miller is a former Ohio State star lineman. He now advocates to break the stigma of mental health issues. He’s struggled with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. In an interview he was asked, “Many argue that you ‘have it all.’ Friends, family, star lineman status, legions of fans, and we wonder how could you be depressed?”

This question highlighted the stigma he is trying to help the world break through!

Don’t be fooled! We all have mental health challenges. It might not be on the same place on the spectrum, but we all have these experiences. By definition, mental health refers to “emotional and psychological well-being” and we all encounter it. For so long we were conditioned to keep things “tucked away” because the thoughts were too dark. And, truth be told, it makes others uncomfortable, so often we were shamed into hiding it.

Many times I stood alone in the authenticity of what I was going through. I didn’t hear others around me being open and honest about these deep things. It was so isolating. I was shamed, told I was “stuck,” and to get a second job and that would “fix it all.”

What we desperately need is support from each other. We need safe space to express these things as easily as talking to a friend about a favorite hobby. Sometimes those we hope will be there for us are not able to, so I encourage you to reach out to someone who is.

Love needs to be bigger than the stigma. It’s not just the one going through it as feelings have a ripple effect outward. Others suffer immensely when their loved one is suffering. It ripples into all kinds of areas besides relationships: employment, health, housing, isolation, loneliness, and overall wellness of our communities at large. We can no longer say, “It’s their problem.” We need to come together in vulnerability, compassion, and non-judgment.

Like Harrison, I believe love transcends all. The biggest reason I write is to “pay it forward.“ In some of my darkest moments of despair, I told myself I wanted to always remember how I have felt, so I would never stop feeling compassion for others.

It is how I can reach out from my heart and show love and say, “You’re not alone. I can empathize. You’re not crazy for feeling like you do. I will listen without judgment. You’re human and life can be brutal at times, but please don’t give up, because life is also beautiful, and so are you!”

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.